A new study identified biomarkers linked to cancer and other diseases in the urine of individuals exposed to glyphosate. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, one of the most widely and heavily applied weedkillers globally. Thousands of people have filed Roundup lawsuits against the agrochemical company Monsanto, alleging the weedkiller gave them cancer. Prior studies have suggested a link between glyphosate exposure and certain hematologic cancers. However, this recent study may tip the scales toward labeling glyphosate a carcinogenic chemical.
New Study Contributes to Evidence That Roundup Is Carcinogenic
The dangers of glyphosate and Roundup have long been the subject of debate. Monsanto and its German parent company Bayer AG continue to attest to the safety of Roundup, repeatedly asserting that glyphosate does not cause cancer. However, research from the University of Washington discovered that Roundup may increase the risk of some cancers, including Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, by more than 40%.
A new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that high levels of glyphosate increase oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress is a phenomenon that breaks down and damages the body’s DNA, which can result in cancer. The study compared the urine of 268 male farmers to the urine of male nonfarmers to determine the relationship between glyphosate exposure and oxidative stress. Urinary oxidative stress biomarkers were significantly higher in farmers recently exposed to glyphosate and those exposed to the chemical long-term.
The findings also noted that oxidative stress is associated with the growth of lymphoma, leukemia, and bone marrow injury. Therefore, this analysis provides insight into glyphosate’s role in developing cancers like lymphoma, myeloma, and leukemia.
Could This Study Sway the EPA’s Glyphosate Assessment?
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) already categorized glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015. Yet, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) previously avoided labeling glyphosate as carcinogenic. This new study could play a significant role in influencing the EPA’s updated glyphosate assessment.
The EPA submitted an updated review of glyphosate in 2020, stating that glyphosate poses no concern to human health. Following a wave of backlash, an appellate court ruled that the EPA’s assessment process was invalid due to inadequate analysis and inconsistent reasoning. This decision forced the EPA to withdraw its assessment until 2026. The study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute may factor into the EPA’s review and final assessment of glyphosate.
Impact on Roundup Lawsuits
Bayer and Monsanto have paid over $11 billion in Roundup settlements thus far and still face thousands of more Roundup lawsuits. The companies have reiterated that Roundup does not cause cancer, despite increasing evidence that suggests otherwise. Given the popularity of Roundup, residentially and commercially, it is likely that Bayer and Monsanto will continue to wade through Roundup lawsuits for years to come as more individuals are diagnosed. This study, authored by several renowned scientists, could serve as critical evidence going forward for plaintiffs in Roundup lawsuits.
Not only did this study shed light on the effects of glyphosate on individuals directly exposed, but it also raised concerns for the general population exposed to Roundup when ingesting contaminated foods and water.
While Roundup manufacturers have questioned the reliability of the study, the authors concluded, “our findings contribute to the weight of evidence supporting an association between glyphosate exposure and oxidative stress in humans and may inform evaluations of the carcinogenic potential of this herbicide.”